Red Bull – Strong throughout as always, the only real question mark was over Mark Webber’s ability to qualify as well as possible to mitigate the effects of his ten-place grid penalty. While Vettel put Mercedes in the shade yet again with a flawless flying lap to take pole, the Australian fulfilled his end of the bargain by netting 3rd, which becomes 13th on countback.
Mercedes – Once again failed to deliver on the promise shown by their relative qualifying advantage over Red Bull, but 2nd and 4th places are still a solid base from which to mount a race-winning performance. Hamilton has every chance of jumping Vettel into turn one and should that fail he has two equally tantalising opportunities into turn three and turn four. Rosberg might have his work cut out handling a feisty Romain Grosjean for 3rd, but if he passes the Frenchman swiftly it could be a chance to wrong-foot Red Bull strategically.
Ferrari – As expected given the deficit in outright pace; Massa shadowed team leader Alonso in excellent fashion and duly lined up just behind the Spaniard on the grid. It’s hard to see how either driver could have put in more effort, but it’s never beyond the talents of the duo to deliver grace-saving results on Sunday. An Alonso podium is a possibility as at every race, while Massa will be out for his own points.
Lotus – Kimi Raikkonen seemed to fade away in Q3 with his one and only timed lap being the 10th and slowest of anyone, but team-mate Grosjean made up for the Finn’s lacklustre showing by taking what turns out to become 3rd place behind Vettel and Hamilton on the grid. His race pace simulation has looked strong in the free practice sessions, and the Frenchman could be a bet for a strong podium finish tomorrow.
Sauber – 7th and 8th is the team’s best qualifying performance of the season and it’s now undeniable that Sauber have vaulted rivals McLaren and Force India in the midfield battle. This doesn’t guarantee success on race day as several faster cars are behind them on the grid (Raikkonen, Webber to name two) but Hulkenberg is out to prove a point, while Gutierrez is hoping for his first top-ten finish of the year to salvage his increasingly beleaguered position within Sauber.
McLaren – Somewhat expectedly McLaren failed to make the cut for Q3, but Jenson Button might have made the grade had he not been baulked by an as-yet unpunished Raikkonen. As it was he has to be content with 11th place behind team-mate Sergio Perez, but neither driver are holding out hope of advancing through the order tomorrow with the MP4/28 behaving increasingly unpredictably on the softer tyre compound.
Force India – 14th and 15th is one of the outfit’s worst results of the year and one that leaves them behind rivals McLaren on the grid; Paul Di Resta is lucky to be there at all after narrowly avoiding the chop in Q1 for the third time in a row, but he is expecting to have a more competitive showing during the race.
Toro Rosso – There was none of the giant-killing headline-grabbing today, but Daniel Ricciardo still did a decent enough job to get ahead of the Force India’s which means he will start alongside fellow Aussie Webber for the race. Jean Eric Vergne’s 16th was roughly where the Frenchman has been all weekend.
Williams – Double the pain for Williams as both cars failed to make it out of the Q1 session, abandoning their fast laps as others went quicker. Despite this, both drivers still believed they would not have been fast enough anyway, They are banking on competitive long run showing from practice and some rain to make the difference up tomorrow.
Caterham – In the in-house struggle at Caterham it was Charles Pic who got the upper hand by less than 0.01 from team-mate Van Der Garde, but rain in the forecast for tomorrow could favour the Dutchman who seems to have the Midas touch when the wet stuff starts to fall.
Marussia – Jules Bianchi probably thought he had achieved his objectives for the day by out-qualifying Max Chilton again, but the Frenchman has been demoted to 24th and last for blocking Paul Di Resta’s final Q1 run. It makes little difference, and he will likely look to rain as his best chance for beating the Caterham’s in the race.
CLASSIFICATION – QUALIFYING – KOREAN GP
|15||Di Resta||Force India||1:38:718|
|20||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:40:871|
* Webber – 10 place penalty for third offence
** Bianchi – Penalty for impeding Di Resta